Friday, January 15, 2021


 Dear Readers,

Sally Witherden is our 53 year old daughter, who lives in Johannesburg and this is her Covid story in her own words.

I recently became a proud grandmother, but before I saw my little grandchild for the first time, I thought it a good idea to get tested for Covid.  My results came back negative and I was delighted to meet Callum when he was 3 days old.  Having hardly seen my daughter during this terrible time it was great for the family and to spend some time together, although still adhering to social distancing, wearing of masks etc.  But still the best thing to come out of 2020!       

The following week to my horror, my team members at work were advised that they had recently been exposed to someone with Covid (although I had not been at the office) but due to company policy we all had to be tested, including myself. I was very reluctant as the previous Thursday had tested negative! Imagine my surprise when my results came back positive, “What the hell” and I was the only one!  I had been at the doctor and a local hospital for an unrelated issue earlier in the week, so did I get it in the office, or had I picked this up at the doctor that week?  It seemed impossible because I constantly wash my hands, sanitise and wear a mask, in fact was very diligent - almost obsessive, “There was no way I was going to get Covid” and especially not now that I wanted to see my little Callum.

I also had no symptoms at all – nothing!  I was advised to just self-isolate at home because I was feeling well enough and I am in the very fortunate situation in that I could go to my weekend house at the Vaal, to be away from anyone and to not pass the virus on to the other people in my home, who had tested negative.  I have to admit I was in total denial that I actually had the virus – how could I test negative one week and then positive the next and no-one I had been in contact with had tested positive, and I had no symptoms at all, it must have been a mistake.

The day I tested it might have been day 4 already, depending where I picked up this stealth virus.  By day 6 I started feeling mild symptoms – headaches, aching legs and muscles, slight temperature, confusion and mainly very tired, no energy and slept solidly for the next 3 days.  Thereafter although still tired started to improve day by day and feeling like my old self, I was very relieved to have only had very “mild symptoms” and this is what you hear from many people who have had this virus – “I was lucky”, “I pulled through easily with very few symptoms” etc. etc.   However, do not think for one minute that once the 10-day quarantine is over your symptoms suddenly disappear.  Not at all, I started feeling other symptoms after I was deemed not contagious, my breathing was labored and was not 100% for about a week, I still get headaches now and then, often feel tired and cannot do any strenuous exercise and when I am tired I get easily confused.  As long as you have symptoms your mind plays games with you, and no it’s not old age - a simple tummy bug and you think you have Covid again!

What you do not hear from mild Covid sufferers is the absolute terror that rips through your sole when you see “Positive” on your results, especially if you are older and your doctor advises you to please not to ignore it.  It plays on your mind every day for the next 10 days, while you are “contagious”, that you have a killer virus taking over your body and you have NO control, you take the advised medication, rest and hope and pray that you will be able to say – “I had a very mild version” all the while waiting for it to get worse and the relief is unbelievable when you stay relatively well.  Also, you start thinking who you could have passed this virus on to and how easily they could also be affected as well, this plays on your conscious day in and day out, although you had no deliberate intentions and did not know you had the virus, and breathe a sigh of relief when they test negative and remain to be in good health.

Then you come out of self-isolation, people say you must be so relieved to get back to normal and you want to start getting back to normal.  But what is normal?  Trust me, nothing is normal again and will not be until we all have been inoculated and have developed herd immunities.  I was really petrified to go near any family members and still stay away as much as I can.  Going into shops, I really avoid talking or being near anyone, you almost hold your breath when talking to someone so not to breathe on anyone – it is terrible.  And this fear is not only because I am afraid to get the virus again - because I am afraid  - just because I have had it does not mean I am immune and I am really scared to pass it on, even though I am not contagious anymore

People’s reactions to you are also quite strange.  You have the people who are afraid to even call you when you are self-isolating (or after) because they don’t know what to say or maybe think you will pass it to them over the phone …… haha.  Then when you come out of isolation people naturally do not want come in contact “just in case” you are still contagious and even those willing to spend time with you will almost sit as far away as possible or lean back as far as they can, when standing talking to you even though there is a good distance between you already – just to keep their distance,  a small lunch that is set up is suddenly cancelled because you are invited, so you start feeling a bit like an outcast and then you get the people who see you and can’t believe you had Covid because you look fine, so ask if you really did have it?  My advice to those people is if you are worried you will get it stay away, I would not take offence, it is natural.  And further advice stay at home it’s just safer - that’s what I am doing, on-line is brilliant, everything you could want at the touch of a button.

Note: Leprosy, an infection of the skin, was once consider to be so highly contagious that the word ‘leper’ came to be used to describe anybody who was shunned by others on moral or on other social grounds.


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